Center for Biological Diversity

Stop Feinstein From Scrapping the Endangered Species Act

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The magnificent San Francisco Bay and Sacramento River Delta is the largest estuary on the West Coast of North America and the source of the California salmon fishery, which provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of income for fishermen. Tragically, one of the nation's most important ecosystems is collapsing, endangering salmon populations. According to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, California's once abundant salmon runs reached an all-time record low in 2009.

Unfortunately, water users are putting heavy pressure on Senator Feinstein to introduce legislation to waive Endangered Species Act protections to these endangered fisheries, which could have disastrous consequences for California's iconic salmon fishery and species such as the delta smelt, Sacramento splittail, and green sturgeon. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Senator Feinstein is attempting to attach language to the Senate jobs bill that would "divert Northern California water to Central Valley farmers." Ironically, such a move could potentially force the closure of the salmon fishery, causing long-term job losses and economic damage.

If you are from California, please urge your senators not to sponsor legislation restricting Endangered Species Act protections to California's Bay-Delta ecosystem and fisheries.

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Please submit comments immediately.

Delta smelt photo (c) B. Moose Peterson, USFWS.

An amendment to waive the requirements under the federal Endangered Species Act could lead to the permanent closure of the salmon fishery, causing long-term job losses and economic damage. Over the past two years, the California salmon fishery has been shut down due to the collapse of salmon populations. This has resulted in thousands of lost jobs in California and Oregon, and billions of dollars in lost income. Season closures have cost an estimated 23,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in the California economy alone. Strong protections for the Delta ecosystem could help recover the salmon fishery, which would return approximately 94,000 new jobs and $1.4 billion to the California economy. According to the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the fishery collapse is having devastating consequence to the fishing community.

Instead of overturning our nation's environmental laws, we should be working together on long-term solutions that restore and maintain the health of the environment on which our economy and the quality of our lives depend. Investments in water recycling, groundwater recharge and cleanup, urban and agricultural water efficiency, and stormwater capture have the potential to yield more water each year than has ever been exported out of the Delta, with significant environmental benefits.